A Field Experimental Test of the Moderating Effects of Growth Need Strength on Productivity

George B. Graen, Terri A. Scandura, Michael R. Graen

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109 Scopus citations


The literature on growth need strength (GNS) as a moderator in organizational research, particularly the job characteristics model of work motivation, is reviewed. This review reveals a preponderance of inappropriate cross-sectional surveys and few appropriate experimental tests in the field on the GNS moderator hypothesis. Next, an incremental model of growth opportunity is contrasted with that of the general level of motivating potential. It is proposed that one should manipulate growth opportunities (increments) being offered to employees in an experimental design to test GNS as a moderator in a theory of motivation. A field experiment using this approach is described. Growth opportunities were manipulated by a vertical collaboration offer based on the leader-member exchange (LMX) model. Results of this experiment demonstrated statistically significant interaction effects between GNS and growth opportunity. As predicted, only high GNS employees responded to the growth opportunity (a 55% increase in quantity produced). This increase in quantity was not made at the expense of quality; the number of errors per week also decreased for this group. The implications of these results for future research on the moderating effects of GNS are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)484-491
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Applied Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 1 1986
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology


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